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The Communicators

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

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Nancy Pelosi 8, Texas 7, Us 4, John Culberson 4, Washington 3, Pelosi 3, America 2, Houston 2, Facebook 2, Virginia 2, Barack Obama 's 1, Realtime 1, Strtly 1, Argentina 1, Etc. 1, Pacific 1, Erica O 1, C-span 1, Obama 1, Uptes 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business. People who  
   shape the digital future.  

    August 31, 2009
    8:00 - 8:30am EDT  

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>> host: this is "the communicators." today we'll show the first of two interviews conducted with members of congress on how they use technology and social media web sites, and many this installment, a conversation with republican representative john culberson of texas. when you think of the political process, what do you believe the role of social media is as far as how folks like you communicate to the folks at home? >> guest: my job description is representative, and the most imporant part of that, of course, is to use my own good judgment based on my core principles and knowledge i have based on the feelings of my district to vote to represent them up here, but equally important is my role as communicator to make sure i keep them plugged in and insuring that they know what's being done here in washington. so i use social media, i see social media as a vital part of my job in communicating with my constituents, and quite frankly,
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i'm a very passionate jeffersonian republican who believes strongly in the tenth amendment and that we need to get the federal government away from my kids, my home, etc., let texas run texas, and i think social media will, frankly, be the root of the next social revolution which will enable people to once they see and hear what the government's doing, i don't think they're going to put up with it. that way we get everyone involved and insure that everyone's participating in the next election and take the government back through social media. >> host: talk about when you first started here, the ways that you communicated, the old ways if we could use that term, with the folks at home, and how has that changed over the years and what kind of technology are you using now? >> traditionally we've always used letters, phone calls. when i was elected to the state legislature in 1987, i had a
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mcintosh was my first computer, and i brought that with me to austin, texas, and set up a program called white knights. it used to be called a bulletin board. i think i was the first elected official in america to use a computer to communicate with my constituents. we typed in the daily house floor schedule, what bills requester being considered by -- were being considered b the texas house. i almost succeeded into dialing up into the state mainframe computer. i wanted to download bill information and share that with the public, and that aggravated the speaker of the texas house and the leadership in january of '87. no one had ever heard of such a thing, and it was just not done, but i did succeed finally. i did it on my own. actually that was the first, also, i think electronic town hall meeting because i did live dial-up sessions where peoe could text me, they would type in questions, and i would answer
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them on the keyboard, and i remember there was a blind gentleman who used his computer, he had a voice recognition system that would read text to him, and and he said that was the first time he knew what was going on in his government because his computer would read it aloud to him. so it wasanuary of of '87, and i've used computers aggressively ever since. i love technology, it fits a fast new, big computer, i love it, so i always try to use the latest technology. now i'm using a whole variety of things. >> host: such as? >> guest: i'm using, of course, twitter. i know i was the first representative to tweet from the house. i started on twitter on may 28th of 2008. i went to lunch with a friend in houston, erica o'grady, i want to give her a shout out because she got me launched on this.
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i realized this was a great way for people to communicate in realtime. >> host: your first experience with the idea or the concept of? >> guest: was with erica o o'gry who does a wonderful job of bringing this technology to individuals. she told me about facebook, about twitter, about quick which is a site which allowed you to stream live video to a web site which i've used successfully. i generally always carry my live quick camera so that when i got ambushed, for example, by the -- let me go in here, i'll show you. i got ambushed once by tmz, and i was able to whip out -- he pulled out the camera and said i want to talk to you, congressman, and i said, well, that's great. why don't you let me -- see if you can see this. now i'm streaming live to my quick web page. in fact, i'll show you here. there w go, see?
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there's the image. [laughter] i'm actually transmitting live to my quick web site page. i'm actually interviewing you now. >> host: okay. [laughter] >> guest: we're on c-span, and this is broadcasting live on my quick web site so when these clowns from tmz thought they were going to ambush a republican congressman, i'm packing heat, so to speak, and was able to interview the guy. it's got a delay, and kay, i'm going to give this to you, and you can actually film us while we are conducting this interview. >> host: so you cry that with you, you use it regularly to talk to the folks at home. >> guest: i do. >> host: about issues. what promises you to pull it out? what occasions do you find you need to record something? >> guest: what i'll do, for example, pais row, i'll use it in the house republican revolt to get nancy pelosi to allow
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offshore drilling. last summer when she adjourned the house, i used my quick video camera to keep the conversation going because we were talking to the gallery. traditionally, you would only talk to the people many the gallery if there was no cameras or microphes. but because of the technology i was able to let us get the idea out how important it was for us to be getting eney drilling out here and now. >> as far as we can tell, it has never been done before. let's all speak out on behalf of the american people and say get these prices down, have a plan for a change. >> guest: in fact, c-span used my live video feed from quick as the coverage that c-span did that day of the house. i used it there very successfully, and it actually turned nancy pelosi around. she allowed offshore drilling until the election occurred, and as soon as they were in the majority, then they, you know, quite immediately they reversed
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it. i ao use it in the -- used it when the house leadership attempted to stifle our ability to talk on the internet. they were going to censor everything we said on the internet, we could only use a preapproved web site. i sent out an alert on my twitter page and launched an electronic rebellion that led to the leadership reversing their position, and we now have virtually unfettered access to the internet as a result of the social media network. >> host: let's talk about it a little bit. what are the rules that strictly cover your ability to use twitter or qui or something like that in the house? >> guest: well, of course, may i show you a little bit of what we're going? >> host: please. >> guest: you're actually seeing the video -- boy, i've got to lose weight. cameras a ruthless. this is the interview we were doing a littl bit, and it is
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some time delayed. if i'm not getting good signal, it's a time-delayed -- there we go. it's a time delay transmission. so we, i use the quick video t do, for example, live feeds. i also use this, this is a recording of a telephone town hall meeting that i did last week, and i use my video camera on top of the monitor and an embedded video on my web site here, my official web site. i'll have an embedded video that people can go to my web site, they can see meonduct the town hall meeting, ask me questions on a text page using a chat room essentially. i'll take questions using, i'll also take quesions using twitter. they can ask me questions on my twitter web page. and, for example, see i'm linked so that people know immediately i've been broadcasting live, and if they were to click on that embedded link on my twitter page, they'll go straight to my
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qik page, and they can see this thing load. so i use the social media to communicate on a regular basis. if something interesting is happening which is generally every day, i'll use the qik camera to do ierviews with my colleagues as in the case of drill here, dill know now -- drill now or opening up the social media. i also use it to communicate with constituents on telephone how town hall meetings so they can talk to me on the telephone at home, they can talk to me using a chat room, and they can also ask me questions on twitter, and it allows me to really use techlogy in a way that, you know, i don't -- it's just extraordinary. we are approaching a moment in history when we will have essentially realtime democracy where everyone in the country will be wired in and able to use these handheld devices with such
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high-speed uplinks speed that the public will actually be able to see and hear. my goal is total transparency. the public has a right to see and hear and know everything that their elected representatives are doing with their tax dollars, and when they see that, they won't stand for it. this is such little bitty type, but i hand this outo everybody i know. this information needs to get out, that the liberal leadership of the congress and -- they're driving america into becoming argentina. the level of spending is unprecedented, the level of taxes is unprecedented, more spending and less time than any congress in history -- >> host: so this is the kind of information you put out tough your various sources. >> guest: sure. people won't put up with it. nancy pelosi, obama and reid are driving the country into bankruptcy, they won't stand for it. they're beginning to understand that this liberal government is about to put the people squarely
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between -- now, this s forbidden, by the way. this is forbidden. i cannot say government-ru health care. she's actually made it illegal -- >> host: when you say that, what form do you mean you can't say it? >> guest: re's a forbidden newsletter. i cannot say in my newsletter, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity res would necessarily skyrocket. i was forbidden to telling my constituents a direct quote from the president. i'm forbidden to say cap and tax. >> host: forbidden by whom? >> guest: nancy pelosi and the leadership. here is the e-mail i got from my press secretary, i can't say all these things because the leadership, it upsets them. we can't tell the public, they don't want the public to read the bills. i've co-authored a bill to requir a 72-hour layout before we can vote with brian baird of washington. they don't want the public to
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know our unfettered opinions, so they're censoring us as conservatives, and the way ty enforce it is they would charge me personally for all the postage and printing. i'm not a rich guy, and i'm paying bills on two houses ux so they would dock -- and so they would dock my paycheck. >> host: so when you found out about this, you used social media to tell folks what was going on. >> guest: yeah. i sent out a series of tweets that asks the twitter community, and this is in houston, of course. asked tm, i said, are you committed to the, to transparency, are you committed to, are you committed to liberalism, or are you committed to transparency and open debate and unfettered public access to information? and i got a tremendous response. you can actually see some of the, some of my -- i was
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retweeting, used tweets last night. >> host: because the response goes on your web site. >> guest: did you know mote si forbids me from saying government-run health care? culberson finally slams pelosi for censorship. i was talking about making sure everybody could read the bills. this would not be possible before the electronic revolution. we would be unable to tell our constituents that our voices are being stifled, that we're not allowed to say certain things. if i were to go to the floor, they can just say you're in violation of the rules, and they can take you off the floor. >> host: so before that you would have to send out some type of letter on your own personal stationary? >>uest: exactly. yeah. if the house banking committee which is nancy pelosi says you can't -- they can basically dock my paycheck, so i used social media to get around it.
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the internet has now made us all journalists and made us all media mow gugs -- moguls in a nse, and i can bypass nancy pelosi, i can bipass the mainstream media and go directly to the public. >>ost: now, this is your personal twitter page? >> guest: well, yeah. this is my -- but i don't do any caaign on here. this is strtly, this is strictly me and my official capacity personally talking about what i'm working on. people can send me direct messages on here, and i answer those directly. i don't do any campaign on here. this is, this is sort of a -- yeah. this is not, it's official, but it's also personal. so, obviously, without common sense tells you you don't use official resources to raise money to ask people to vote for you would b utterly inappropriate or to enrich yourself. i mean, that's just common sense. but other than that we should be
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completely free. my argument to the hou leadership is that myccess to social media should be no different than myccess to the new media, to the old media, excuse me. there's no difference. they can't censor my conversation with you, they can't censor my interview with a newspaper reporter or a telesion reporter. they have no right to censor my conversation with my constituents using the internet. and we won that argument thanks to social media last summer. >> host: so now the rules let you. >> guest: it's the twilight zone. they would actually like to shut me down. please, please, nancy pelosi, try to stop me from using social media. i will sue her. i mean, i'm a lawyer, and i know this is a great first amendment case. if the house leadership tries to stifle me or stifle other conservatives from using social media, i'll sue her under the first amendment and win. i sued a federal judge in texas and won back control over the
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texas prison system. this is a great first amendment case. >> host: you said they changed the rules because of your actions last year and they opened them up. >> guest: there's a little bit of a gray zone. yeah, you've got access, but you need to use the official facebook page. it's still sort of a gray zone. we've got much freer access that the senate. the senate you have to submit everything you write to the franking committee. i don't know why they're not -- >> host: so everything you write to social media? >> guest: the senate has much more restrictive access to the internet. we have much freer access, but they -- this is a wonderful page called surmise.com where you can track what people are saying about you. you can, for example, show this conversation if you click on there. there we go. this allows you to see, link together an entire conversation. but my access here is allegedly as far as i can tell still
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largely unfettered. but there are, it'sort of a gray zone. they potentially could ce in and tell me what to say, and i actually am waiting. if they do, i'll sue them because it's unacceptable. >> host: now that you have immediate feedback, what's it like as far as how you would do your job? you may get telephone calls, and what's it like now, and does that make your job harder? >> guest: no. it actually makes it much easier. m able to communicate using all these different communication media and then also -- the other one i want to make sure i talk about is facebook because i think actually facebook is the most powerful communication tool for us on the internet. because this allows me, for example, this is everybody that's been sending me messages just this morning. this is just this morning. so i'm talking to constituencies or people that are friends, i think i'm over 1500 friends
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right now. i send out a message, when i send out a message on twitter or qik, i've got my facebook page set up so it immediately uptes. you'll notice, let's see, right here if i go to john culberson, the minute i turn out my qik camera, it sends out a message that i'm sending live right now. all of my pages are linked. it updates my twitter page, my qik page, my facebook page, and it's geometric. so it's an extraordinarily powerful tool that makes me a better representative and helping me to, for example, i had a guy ask me last night, hey, i support obama's health care plan. and i said, well, i can tell you, we've god 92 -- got 92 percent opposition at this point, about 8 percent in favor. it's a wonderful communication tool, and i really am, i'm convinced that the only w we, the people, will ever get control of our government again is through social media because
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people won't stand for it when they see the level of spending and taxes, they don't have to wait for c-span to do the broadcast. see it live. >> host: what's the level of civility that someone could comment to you behind a keyboard? >> guest: oh, people are wonderful. no, no, people are polite. the social community is also a terrific enforcer of to a large extent common courtesy, certainly a fact checker. there's no better way to check your facts. social media community will not tolerate falsehoods or duplicity or if you attempt to tell something that's a half truth. that's not going to stand. this is the greatest truth detector ever created in the history of humanity. thomas jefferson said the three marketplace of ideas is the best place to hash out all problems and that all abuses, he said, should be tried at thear of public opinion. the social media community is when you put something out
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there, it ricochets around immediately, and they'll go check your facts. >> host: so is this your -- what we're looking at right now, this is your personal facebook page? >> guest: this is my personal one that i use both for, i use, for example, i'm a, i'm very committed to the tenth amendment and to that lone star, and these are lone stars worn by texas soldiers throughout our history. they would wear them on their hats. i took a couple of my favorite hat stars on the uss texas on its maiden voyage. so this is my personal page, but i also combine official duties on here. but never -- i don't do any campaign work on it because this is, again, i just want to make sure that everything i'm doing is appropriate, in good taste and i try to use common sense. and it, so far it's just been, it's been, it' a great experience, it's a great way to communicate, and it is truly, i'm convinced, the wave of the future. this will become expected of all
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elected representatives, and i want to see what you're doing up on facebook, i want to see you on twitter, i want to see you using all these different social media tools to talk to me. public is going to demand it, and at that point, then we've got real control over the government, and there's no where to hide. >> host: on the web site tweet congress, you're listed a most active, number one as most conversational. do other legislators say, hey, i want to get more into this, what do i do? do they seek your advice? >> guest: yes. i've been actively process thetizing among myolleagues to use this wonderful tool. my can figure it out, an old guy like me, there's nothing to it. it's a lot of fun, it's a way to communicate, that's what we do. so i have encouraged people to do it. it is as simple, frankly, as clicking on the web paifnlgt twitter in particular is a snap, and there's nothing to linking your facebook page to twitter.
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this stuff is all easy and very natural. you know, once they get into it and understand it, it's a lot of fun. i mean, it's a realtime conversation that was never possible before. and the time really is coming. i mean, right now you've got -- >> and i represent a highly educated district, people are very internet savvy and rapidly approaching a time when i'll be able to go online and talk to, for example, if i send out a message and i've got 10,000 friends and i say i want you to send this to all your friends, you can see very quickly it's geometric. and the moment's going to come when, for example, if nancy pelosi's doing something particularly outrageous. i say today at noon hit pelosi's office with an e-mail or phone call, go. and you can imagine 10,000, 50,000, 500,000 people, what the government -- we could move heaven and everett when the american -- earth when everybody is simultaneously of their own
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free will asking their elected representatives to take action. there's not an elected official in the nation that could withstand that, and they would literally, we, the people, will take back our government once these tools become readily available. >> host: you are on the forefront, but do you think that barack obama's campaign and victory brought more attention to the idea of social media? >> guest: it did, certainly. that was a great help that the campaign used the social media so aggressively. i think it's tragic that they have reneged on every campaign promise they've made. that's not hammed. he promised he would never sign a bill that wasn't on the internet for at least five hours. that was false because every single major piece of legislation that nancy pelosi and the liberal house leadership have passed has been dropped on the house the night before, the public's never been given a chance to rd it carefully and thoughtfully until the health care bill -- where is that
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thin by the way? >> host: we only have a few minutes left. >> guest: the point is, the public has a right to read these bills, and every single piece of legislation was typically dropped right before the vote. we voted the next day on the stimulus bill at 1. the energy cap and tax bill, there was a 300-page amendment literally dropped at the last minute. the omnibus bill. i've learned to not learn to what he says, watch what he does. they're rapidly expadding the government, they're not being transparent, and we have an obligation as elected officials to ip cyst on -- insist on complete transparency, 72-hour layout on all these bills, an open, free, fair debate. what are they afraid of? they got the votes. >> host: representative john culberson talking about technology and social media and how he uses it in his day-to-day work as a congress.
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thank you for being on "the communicators." >> guest: privilege to be with you, thank you very much. host: he hopes to educate other members in how to better use technology, and it's not just republicans getting into the effort. in fact, in an upcoming program we'll talk with representative steve israel, a democrat from new yor about how he uses new media to reach out to constituents. don't forget you can see this program and others at our web site at c-span.org. >> you've been watching "the communicators," c-span's weekly look at the issues and people affecting telecommunications policy. if you missed any of this broadcast with congressman john culberson, you can see this program tonight in its prime time slot at 8 eastern, 5 pacific here on c-span2.
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>> in more than a dozen books, jonathan kozol has analyzed and critiqued the american public education system. sunday he'll takeour questions live on booktv's "in depth." >> and now a health care town hall meeting with virginia congressman jerry connolly. he's a freshman democrat representing the state's 11th district located just outside of washington d.c. this two hour event was held as a senior citizens' center in springfield, virginia. >> well, good afternoon, everybody. i can't for the life of me figure out how to get this many people to my meetings. [laughter] so, but i am, i do want to welcome everybody here today. our residents, our guests, the media, the folks on our panel,
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certainly. i'm congressman connolly, we welcome you today. this is a very exciting time. we find ourselves as a community very often right in the middle of some of these discussions and these debates and the part of the political process. it's a very exciting place to be, and i have no doubt that today is going to be a model for how to do one of these, to have one of these discussions and to have a town hall meeting that others will try to duplicate so thank you for your, for your civility and courtesy to each other as we do this today. we're going to have some really great presentations, but at the end we're going to have plenty of time for questions and answers, and we're going to have a microphone right here in the front if you'd like to ask a question. there'll also be a roving microphone. if you can't get out of your seat, that's fine. we'll have some people that can bring a microphone to you. we do ask that everybody keep their questions to about 30 seconds because we imagine there will be many questions, and